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Lauren Ashley Simmons is Running for Office to Advocate for Public Schools and Transgender Teens

Lauren Ashley Simmons

Lauren Ashley Simmons knew she had to run for state representative in District 146 when Rep. Shawn Thierry, a Democrat from Houston, announced she was breaking with her party to support Senate Bill 14, which bars gender-transitioning care for children and teens.

“I was appalled by Rep. Thierry’s vote,” Simmons says. “Only she knows why she has turned against LGBTQ+ families, but it’s time for her to go—for that and many other reasons.”

For Simmons, this isn’t just about reclaiming a place at the table for the LGBTQ community; it’s about fighting for what’s right. She has never run for elected office, but says her district’s residents encouraged her to run after a video of her criticizing the State’s takeover of Houston ISD went viral online. With two children in Houston ISD schools, Simmons is worried about Republican attacks on public education and feels that Thierry was unresponsive to constituents about the issue.

“Thierry voted with Abbott to ban books in school libraries, and she skipped the vote to impeach disgraced Attorney General Ken Paxton,” she says. “Thierry’s biggest backer is an anti-abortion billionaire who gave more than $1 million to Abbott and $850,000 to former president Donald Trump. Thierry has also refused to publicly condemn Abbott for his state takeover of HISD schools or his voucher plan that could ultimately close neighborhood public schools. My kids are in HISD schools and are being harmed by Gov. Abbott and Rep. Thierry.”

Simmons believes her past work history gives her the skills necessary for this position, and she promises to be a strong voice for equality in the Texas House if elected.

“I am a union organizer with a proven track record of fighting for the very people that Greg Abbott and his allies are trying to keep down,” she says. “I educate, organize, and mobilize. I currently organize Black low-income women and Black migrant women to get fair wages and benefits, improved working conditions, and better job security. I have been an organizer and fierce advocate for Texas State employees and Houston teachers. I am a proud CWA member and shop steward.

“I will bring all those skills with me into office, and that will inform my continued advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community. I will become a member of the House LGBT caucus, prioritize hiring staff from our community, and ensure that my office is a safe space for our community when issues arise that cause LGBTIA+ groups to mobilize.”

Simmons says her progressive stance on several issues makes her the ideal candidate for this position, and she promises to fight for all — no matter their race, gender, or sexuality.

“I am a union organizer with a proven track record of fighting for the very people that Greg Abbott and his allies are trying to keep down,” she says.

Simmons opposes the censoring of LGBTQ and other books in schools and public libraries. She also promises to pursue legislation that is intersectional, and she’s committed to blocking legislation that attacks not only the LGBTQ history, but Black history, Native American history, Latino history, Asian history, women’s rights, and more.

“I am fighting to keep our public schools strong by supporting teachers, students, and parents, Simmons says. “I am fighting to get health care for people who have to choose between paying for medicine or paying the rent. I am fighting for living wages for the very people that Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton are trying to keep down. I am fighting against the continued and accelerating erosion of our civil rights and the erasure of Black history. And I am fighting to protect LGBTQIA+ people from family separation, violence, and death.”

Born and raised in the Third Ward, Lauren attended public schools and Trinity United Methodist Church. She was a Jack and Jill kid who was active in that acclaimed leadership development and volunteer service organization. Then life threw a curveball. Lauren became a mom at age 19 and had to navigate motherhood, postpartum depression, and staying in school so she could one day provide for her family.

“Those experiences have given me a perspective that will serve many of those in District 146 well,” she notes. “I know what it’s like to be without power and keep fighting. I went literally overnight from being a comfortable middle-class kid to a 19-year-old mom on food stamps. I struggled, for sure, but my struggles are not that different from many people today who have lost their safety net.”

In a country that is incredibly divided, many people seem pessimistic about the future. But Simmons says she stays motivated and optimistic about what lies ahead because she knows firsthand how tough the American spirit is.

“When I think about and talk about the toughest times in my life, I think of the Black women in low-income apartments where I lived who taught me how to survive—how to stretch every penny,” she emphasizes. “I owe them a debt. That’s why I do what I do.”

For more info on Simmons’ campaign, go to laurenashleysimmons.com.

 

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Connor Behrens

Connor Behrens is a communications graduate from the University of Houston. He has written for the Washington Post, Community Impact Newspaper and the Galveston County Daily News (the oldest newspaper in Texas). When he's not writing stories, he is likely watching the latest new release at the movie theater.
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